Chris Arnade has lived in Brooklyn Heights for the past twenty years since receiving his Physics PhD from Johns Hopkins and beginning a career as a foreign exchange trader. He’s also been an avid photographer since childhood. For the past couple of years, Chris has been documenting his exploration of New York City on his Flickr blog, covering everything from pigeon keepers to drug addicts and prostitutes. While looking for a Daily Links photo recently we came across a series of photos Chris took of people in East New York and Brownsville last summer and thought it was an amazing contrast to the way these neighborhoods are often portrayed in the media. What was the impetus? “Last summer I read an article in The New York Times about the zip codes with the worst crime statistics and decided to spend some of the summer in one of them, 11233,” he told us. “I never had a bad experience, although I was stopped by the police a few times, making sure I knew what I was doing.” UPDATE: Come check out Chris’ photography at the Urban Folk Art Gallery on March 9, 101 Smith Street. Details here.
UPDATE 2/21/12: The New York Times ran an article about Chris’ photo series on the prostitutes of Hunts Point.
It was a busy weekend for Occupy Wall Street folks in Brooklyn: On Saturday night, an “occuparty” was held at a vacant condo on North 8th and Driggs in Williamsburg. According to the Daily News, a few dozen people “hung Christmas lights, spray painted slogans like ‘F–k the police’ and ‘Life is Protest’ on the building walls, but were civilized enough to pack some beer on ice in the empty building.” Eventually the cops broke it up, some protestors who were blocking traffic a couple blocks away were arrested, and six officers were injured in the melee. Brokelyn published an announcement in advance of the event on Friday that gives a bit of a sense of what it was about: “We’ll be converging at 207 North 8th Street at 10pm before heading to the space, which has lain vacant for years now, and is owned by a bank known to invest in bio-, chemical, and nuclear weapons, as well as cluster bombs used specifically by Qaddafi against the 2011 insurgency.” Meanwhile, in East New York, the Post reports that the occupiers who had taken over a house that is under foreclosure pressure are in the process of moving out and returning it to its owner.
Booze, Arrests At “Occuparty” In Williamsburg Last Night [Gothamist]
Arrests at Occupy Party in Williamsburg [NY Daily News]
Exiting Occupy Home [NY Post]
Flier photo by rosiegray/buzzfeed
Over the weekend the Post reported that the attention-grabbing Occupy Wall Street takeover of a vacant house in foreclosure in East New York was little more that a publicity stunt that hadn’t actually succeeded in providing housing to people in need of it, and yesterday the people behind the occupation issued a series of statements responding to the story’s claims in an effort to debunk some of them. OWS organizers say that Wise Ahadzi, the homeowner who abandoned the house a couple years ago after foreclosure proceedings began, hadn’t told them that he was intent on reclaiming his property, as the Post reported: “According to statements Mr. Ahadzi made to the New York Post yesterday, he is apparently now interested in reclaiming his home. Given that, Alfredo Carrasquillo and members of Occupy Wall Street will support Mr. Ahadzi’s efforts, so that neither his family or Alfredo’s is homeless, and so that the house at 702 Vermont does not sit vacant.” Meanwhile, Alfredo Carrasquillo, the community organizer who is supposed to be moving into the East New York house with his family, responded to the story’s allegations that it didn’t appear like he’d moved into the property and it was only being lived in by Occupy Wall Street protesters: “On December 6, I moved into a vacant, Bank of America-foreclosed property with the support of neighbors on Vermont St. because my family — victims of Michael Bloomberg’s housing policies and the big banks’ callous disregard for people — had been homeless for years. The support I received from the community was overwhelming, in part because they have also been victims of those same policies. …I invited members of Occupy Wall Street to inhabit the house with me, until it was safe for my family to move in, as a defense against the mayor’s policy of using the police department to defend property over people.”
Owner of OWS Foreclosure in ENY Wants His House Back [Brownstoner]
Photo by Brennan Cavanaugh
Last month members of Occupy Wall Street took over a home in East New York, saying they were going to renovate the property, which was empty following a foreclosure, so a homeless family could live in it. According to the Post, though, the family that was supposed to move in has yet to fully do so—it’s unclear from the story if this is because the house has yet to be completely renovated or if there’s simply not enough space for the family—and the person who owns the house but moved out after foreclosure proceedings began in 2009 wants his property back from the occupiers. Wise Ahadzi, the homeowner, says he bought the property for $424,500 in 2007 and stopped being able to make mortgage payments a couple years later, after he’d lost his job and the house’s value had plummeted. Ahadzi claims the Occupy Wall Street organizers aren’t willing to entertain the notion of reinstating Ahadzi and his children in the house: “I’m trying to get my house back, and they’re trying to take it from me.” The article is hardly a nuanced portrait of whatever is actually going on at 702 Vermont Street, so it remains to be seen whether what it suggests is accurate: That occupying the East New York foreclosure was a PR stunt and it hasn’t resulted in anyone who actually needed housing getting a roof over their heads.
Single Dad Trying to Reclaim Home OWS Took Over [NY Post]
Occupiers Fixing Up a Foreclosure in East New York [Brownstoner]
Photo by Brennan Cavanaugh
A Look at Brooklyn, then and now.
Fortunoff’s began in 1922 as a neighborhood housewares store on Livonia Avenue in
Brownsville East New York. Founded by Max and Clara Fortunoff, the store soon grew from one storefront in this working class Jewish neighborhood, to eight storefronts, all on Livonia Avenue, under the El train, offering customers household goods, furniture , kitchen merchandise and gift items at high quality with great prices. In 1957, they started to carry jewelry, as well, greatly expanding their business. In 1964, the company, like most of the neighborhood, left Brooklyn for the suburbs, relocating to a new superstore in Westbury, Long Island, to a new suburban shopping experience called the Shopping Center at Roosevelt Raceway. (more…)
Patch has a story about an initiative launched last month called Neighborhood Stabilization Program 2 that grants up to $80,000 in forgivable loans to first-time buyers of foreclosed or vacant homes in neighborhoods with high foreclosure rates. Here’s a bit on how it works: “if a program participant buys a house for $200,000 and gets the maximum $50,000 NSP2 principal equity loan and $30,000 for repairs, the loan will actually reduce the principal by 25 percent, resulting in lower mortgage and monthly interest rate payments.” Patch notes that Clinton Hill and Bed-Stuy are among the neighborhoods where buyers are eligible for the program (Pratt Area Community Council is one of the local nonprofits partnering with HUD and HPD on the program), while the HPD notice that went out announcing the loans also said that buyers in Bushwick, Crown Heights and East New York could apply for the loans. According to the story, “189 vacant houses will be resold in the first stages of the NSP2 program” in Clinton Hill, and it’s surprising to hear there are so many vacant houses in the neighborhood.
Loan Program Looks to Place Brooklyn Families In Vacant Homes [Patch]
Photo by mercurialn
City Room has details about the group of Occupy Wall Street members who have taken over a house in East New York that was foreclosed in 2008. According to the story, the home is a wreck: It lacks running water and electricity, and there is mold covering the ceiling and old furnishings left to rot that need to be removed. The plan is to make the house habitable for a woman named Tasha Glasgow, her companion and her two children, who are currently squatting in an apartment in East Rockaway. A person who lives across the street from the East New York house said she saw the occupation as positive for the neighborhood, noting that the vacant building had attracted criminal activity and “we need the house to be occupied by somebody.”
Foreclosed in Brooklyn: House Repairs as Protest [City Room]
Photo by Brennan Cavanaugh
Salon’s Justin Elliott has been live tweeting today’s Occupy Wall Street gathering in East New York, a campaign that’s meant to protest shoddy lending practices in the neighborhood with the most foreclosures New York City. As of half an hour ago it sounded like the protestors had converged on a home in foreclosure that was being “reoccupied.”
Live from Occupy East New York [Salon]
Photo by @elliottjustin
Yesterday HPD put out a request for proposals for the first phase of a big development project in East New York called the Livonia Avenue Initiative. The first phase of the project involves the development of four city-owned sites on Livonia Avenue between Pennsylvania Avenue and Williams Avenue; it’s supposed to bring around 225 low-income rentals and 68,000 square feet of ground-floor commercial space to the corridor. All told, the initiative—which will have a few other phases and stretch into Brownsville—is supposed to result in around 791 units of affordable housing. The lots will be transferred to the developers for $1 apiece. GMAP
Well, it’s the last House of the Day post of the summer and there’s nothing, and we mean nothing, left to highlight (Labor Day can’t come soon enough!) so we’re going with something a little off the beaten path. According to StreetEasy, this place at 526 Essex Street in East New York is the cheapest single-family house in the borough of Brooklyn. The price? $109,000. Who’s in?
526 Essex Street [Tom Marco Real Estate] GMAP P*Shark
Earlier this month we told you about two buildings with public hearings at the March 22nd LPC meeting, and two more building of note have joined the agenda to be considered for calendering. The first is the East New York Savings Bank, currently a Banco Popular at 1117 Eastern Parkway. According to the LPC, “It is a fine example of late 1920s branch bank design, distinguished by its exceptional bronze and stone sculpture by one of the leading designers of the period.” The limestone-clad neo-Romanesque was finished in 1929 and designed by Holmes & Winslow. The second, in Fort Greene, is the Paul Roebson Theater at 40 Greene Avenue. From the LPC: “Alterations to the building appear to be few, including the removal of some stained-glass windows and painting of the facade, but nevertheless this early Brooklyn church is a significant example of vernacular Gothic-style architecture and also an important reminder of the borough’s rich religious history.” You can see some interior pics on this post by Clinton Hill Blog and read more on the history of building after the jump.
Photos via LPC (more…)
“It isn’t much to look at, just a big empty lot packed with snow and some struggling cattail plants sandwiched between the Starrett City apartment complex and a shopping mall. But a field in the East New York section of Brooklyn has become one of the most hotly debated spots in New York City. All because it may â€” possibly, one dayâ€” be home to the city’s first Wal-Mart store. …In East New York, all that Wal-Mart would need to do is sign a lease. A store there would become part of a huge project that has already been approved by the Council and includes several thousand units of housing and an expansion of the existing Gateway Center shopping mall. Wal-Mart’s opponents are crying foul, saying the plan approved by the Council in 2009 did not include the chain. ‘It was a total bait and switch,’ said Bertha Lewis, the former chief executive of the community organizing group Acorn who is helping to organize the opposition throughout the city.” -NY Times
The group Walmart Free NYC released a study that, according to the Daily News, says Walmart’s designs on East New York would result in a gridlock nightmare. The article notes: “The report predicted that if the planned Gateway II shopping center included a Walmart, it would draw 10,692 more cars every weekday than the mall’s developers predicted in their environmental study. That’s a 32% jump in traffic, they said….All the new vehicles would slow traffic by 29% on the already congested Shore Parkway, the study found.” No word on whether the group is conducting a similar study about how a ShopRite might affect the area. Meanwhile, Gateway II developer the Related Companies tells the newspaper that the study is poppycock. In other Walmart-is-coming news, an article in Crain’s brings word of the following: “Walmart has reached a deal in principle with the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York that guarantees union workers will construct or renovate any stores that the retailer opens in the city during the next five years. The deal is a coup for Wal-mart Stores Inc., which faces stiff opposition from grocery and retail unions worried that the retailer’s entry into the New York City market will put downward pressure on the salaries of their members.”
Brooklyn Walmart Foes Say Plan is Traffic Jam in the Making [Daily News]
Walmart Inks Construction Union Deal [Crain's]
Photo by jerdlngr
Crain’s filed this story late yesterday: “A local supermarket union will launch a campaign Tuesday afternoon to bring a 100,000-square-foot ShopRite to the Brooklyn retail center that Walmart is also eyeing for its first New York City store. United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1500 will argue that ShopRite’s wages and benefits outstrip those offered by Walmart, and that the supermarket would match Walmart’s promise to bring fresh food into the East New York, Brooklyn, neighborhood.” The site, at the Gateway II complex, is owned by the Related Cos.
ShopRite Jockeys With Walmart for Brooklyn Site [Crain's]
1. COBBLE HILL $1,770,000
54 Cheever Place GMAP
Last week’s sales weren’t all that big. Topping the list is this 21′-wide, 3-family brick home, which was an Open House Pick back in January, when it was listed at $1,800,000. “Original details include original floors, mantels, pocket doors a pier mirror and 4 wood burning fireplaces… This house is set up as an owner’s duplex and two rentals,” says its listing on StreetEasy. Entered into contract on 7/27/10; closed on 9/28/10; deed recorded on 10/7/10.
2. MANHATTAN BEACH $1,725,000
170 Kensington Street GMAP
Coming in at #2 is this 2,442-sf, 1-2 family home. It’s steps from Manhattan Beach Park and a block from the beach itself. Entered into contract on 7/23/10; closed on 9/21/10; deed recorded on 10/6/10.
3. PARK SLOPE $1,600,000
33 St. Marks Avenue GMAP
20′ wide and 65′ deep, this 4-story, 4-family building was built around 1920, according to PropertyShark. Entered into contract on 5/25/10; closed on 9/22/10; deed recorded on 10/8/10.
4. EAST NEW YORK $1,469,655.68
508 6th Avenue GMAP
This 3-story corner building has 2,400 square-feet of residential space, divided into 2 apartments, and 1,950 square-feet of commercial space. Entered into contract on 4/7/10; closed on 9/28/10; deed recorded on 10/5/10.
5. MIDWOOD $1,400,000
1321 East 23rd Street GMAP
According to StreetEasy, this 1-family, 2-story home is located on a 4,000-sf lot. Entered into contract on 7/1/10; closed on 9/15/10; deed recorded on 10/5/10.
Photos from PropertyShark.
We drove out to Ridgewood Reservoir a couple of weekends ago (getting horribly lost among all the cemeteries, but that’s a story for another time) and our eye was caught by this house at the corner of Linwood Street and Jamaica Avenue. It’s clear at first glance that it’s seen better days, but we wouldn’t have guessed what material it was originally built out of. Click through to see the old tax photograph for the answer. GMAP (more…)
Small multi-family buildings in lower-income neighborhoods of Brooklyn have been particularly hard hit by the housing crisis, according to a new report from TerraCrg Commercial Realty Group. As reported in The Real Deal, 80 percent of foreclosure filings in Brooklyn over the past year were for mortgages under $1 million and 51 percent of non-residential mortgages were for three- to four-unit residential buildings; the article also notes that “the majority of the foreclosures took place in lower-priced neighborhoods like Bed-Stuy and East New York.” The result? “A bevy of three- to four-unit residential buildings in Bedford-Stuyvesant can be had for under $300,000.” No big surprises here, though the headline tries to put a positive spin on the news: “Discounted Brooklyn brownstones coming to market, but not in prime neighborhoods.”
Discounted Brooklyn Brownstones Coming to Market [TRD]
Low-Cost Brooklyn Housing Sees Few Foreclosures [NPR]
Affordable Houses Infused With Color [NY Times]
Low-Income? You’re Kidding! [NY Magazine]
Hudson Companies (yes, they of the Third & Bond blog) announced that ground was broken yesterday at the eight-story low-income housing development at 1490 Dumont Avenue in East New York. The 176 rental apartments, made possible by the LAMP program and several city agencies, will be available to households with incomes of $16,000 to $46,000, with 20 percent of the units reserved for formerly homeless tenants. The project (called the Elder Lane development) will include solar panels, bicycle and car parking, and a 6,000-square-foot enclosed, landscaped courtyard. It will also be “the first residential project in NYC to utilize a vibro-compaction system,” which, as the name implies, uses vibrations to rearrange the soil, making it more dense and less permeable. According to the press release, this saved the project $1.5 million because “the procedure eliminates the need for 50′ piles, as well as structural caps, beams, and slabs.” 1490 Dumont is being launched as part of Mayor Bloomberg’s New Housing Marketplace Plan, which hopes to preserve or construct 165,000 units of affordable housing by 2014. GMAP